Divorce is more than just terminating your marriage contract. It is also a complex legal process of dividing your marital property between you and your spouse, and if you have children together, the two of you must resolve custody. Ultimately, every divorce is unique, and every couple undergoing divorce will face different challenges. However, anyone can do a few things to make their divorce easier to manage and more likely to yield positive results.

Whether you have been blindsided by an unexpected divorce petition from your spouse or have seen the end of your marriage coming for quite some time, it is essential to know what you can do to prepare for this complicated process. A few best practices can help you streamline your divorce proceedings and increase your chances of reaching favorable terms in your final divorce order.

Seek Legal Representation as Soon as Possible

Regardless of whether you and your spouse are on amicable terms with one another, it is vital to find legal counsel you can trust to navigate your case efficiently in Kansas City, MO. The right attorney handling your case proceedings can streamline your divorce and help you to get the best possible results. You will have ongoing guidance and easily accessible support when you need it most. In addition, if any unexpected problems arise with your case, you can rely on your attorney to help you determine the best practical solutions to these issues.

While you may be overwhelmed by the gravity of your situation once you realize that you are headed for divorce, take time to thoroughly research local divorce attorneys who can provide the counsel and support you need. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the more time they will have to explore your legal options and compile a compelling case. In addition, they can make all the procedural aspects of your divorce much easier to handle, and this can prevent unforeseen administrative red tape from interfering with your case.

Gather Important Financial Records

One of the most tedious aspects of divorce in California is property division, which unfolds under the state’s community property law. Both spouses in a divorce must produce complete and accurate financial records of all property, assets, and debts. These financial disclosure statements are essential for many other aspects of divorce beyond property division, such as determining child support obligations and assigning alimony terms.

Take time to collect the financial records you will likely need for your divorce. Once you have an experienced Kansas City, MO, divorce lawyer handling your case, they can help you determine what records remain to be collected for your financial disclosure statement. The sooner you can provide your attorney with these records, the easier it will be for them to identify your most significant areas of concern and address discrepancies as they come up.

Talk to Your Family

Divorce will impact your family and your spouse’s family. If the two of you have children, it may be challenging to explain the situation to them, depending on their age and understanding. Once you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you must prepare for a few very difficult conversations with your children and other relatives. If you and your spouse can do so, it’s generally best to have these conversations together, so both of you have the opportunity to explain your side of the situation to your family. However, this may not be realistic in every divorce case.

Divorcing parents must be cautious in their interactions with their children during and after the divorce. Young children may not fully understand what is happening in their households, and older children often have behavioral issues when faced with upheavals in the home. A divorcing parent should never try to turn their kids against their other parent to obtain greater custody rights. Doing so will almost always backfire tragically.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution

When many people in Kansas City, MO, think of divorce, they imagine intense arguments in a courtroom and protracted litigation lasting for months. While some divorce cases may need to be resolved through trial proceedings, litigation is not the only way you and your spouse could approach your divorce. The Missouri family court is legally required to rule on issues such as child custody and child support, but there are other aspects of divorce a couple can resolve privately through alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution effectively equates to a private settlement negotiation for a divorce. Instead of having a family court judge rule on each aspect of their divorce, a couple can attempt to negotiate divorce terms privately. The two most commonly used forms of alternative dispute resolution in Missouri are collaborative law and mediation.

In collaborative divorce law, spouses meet privately with their respective attorneys to negotiate their divorce. If they can reach mutually agreeable terms, they can draft their divorce order and submit it to the court for a final review. If they have children, they will need to resolve custody through litigation, and a family court judge will have the final say regarding their custody determination. Collaborative law typically enables divorcing couples to resolve their divorces faster with more personalized terms.

Mediation is similar to collaborative law but requires the involvement of a neutral third party to facilitate divorce negotiations. This mediator cannot hold any conflicts of interest favoring either spouse nor may they provide any legal counsel to either spouse. Instead, the mediator guides the discussion and helps the couple draft their divorce agreement.

Alternative dispute resolution can potentially save you and your spouse significant time and money on divorce proceedings. When there are issues the two of you cannot resolve privately in collaborative law or mediation, you must simply take your remaining issues to court. Ultimately, alternative dispute resolution is the best way to save time with your divorce, even if you cannot resolve every issue privately. If you aren’t positive that alternative dispute resolution would work in your situation or if you simply need help preparing for an impending divorce, contact an experienced Kansas City divorce lawyer.